2014 Big 12 Preview: Oklahoma State

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The Oklahoma State Cowboys finished last season with a 10-3 record. They lost their last game of the season in the Cotton Bowl to a strong SEC team in Missouri. The Cowboys will be looking to get back to being a strong contender, despite all the seniors that have left.

The two freshmen that fans need to look out for are Kennen Brown and Gyasi Akem. Oklahoma State never seems to fail to recruit exceptional receivers, boasting Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant as recent alums. Brown could be the next in line. He is a strong receiver with serious burners. He has incredible ball skills and he runs crisp, precise routes. Brown had 57 receptions, 918 yards, and nine touchdowns during his senior campaign.

Akem is a fierce competitor who does not shy away from a challenge. Listed at 6’2 playing outside linebacker, he will be an intimidating force from the opening snap. Akem guarded receivers and running backs in high school to help him become a better player in coverage.

On offense, the Cowboys will be looking to rebuild. Their quarterback J.W. Walsh has been an off and on starter throughout his time in Stillwater. Walsh has had moments of brilliance last season, but he also has had moments of dreadful play. It will be interesting to see who the Cowboys name their official starter for QB next season. Fortunately, whoever does win that top spot on the depth chart under center will have a great receiving corps to throw to. The Cowboys return Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd and Marcell Ateman, to go along with the incoming Brown.

The Oklahoma State defense should be strong this year after finishing first in the Big 12 in scoring defense.  Second-year coordinator Glenn Spencer will continue to try and create an attacking defense that gets in your face, and gets in it often. The cornerstones of this defense will be Jimmy Bean and James Castleman, who head the defensive front for the Cowboys. The major concern for this defense will be at the linebacker and safety positions. Hopefully, linebacker Ryan Simmons can help with this issue, and improve following a year in which he finished with 67 tackles.

Expectations:

Oklahoma State lost 28 seniors from last season, so this will look to be a rebuilding year. They have recruited some great talent and may surprise some people with young guys. However, they start against defending champs Florida State and have a tough schedule ahead of them. They may be a fun team to watch this year, but do not expect them to be a top dog in the Big 12.